The Genealogy of Vidding

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Title: The Geneology of Vidding (aka the three houses of vidding, the three great houses)
Creator: Rachael Sabotini
Date(s): Aug, 2005
Medium: Panel/Discussion notes/ Vid Show
Fandom: Meta, Vidding, Fan History
External Links: Original notes on LJ, Archived version
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The Three Houses of Vidding

As a side-effect of the communal sharing of video editing technology, groups of fans would also teach each other techniques and as a result certain aesthetics were developed among these groups.

At Vividcon 2005, Rachael Sabotini presented her genealogy of vidding panel opposite to the Luminosity's showing of Scooby Road, describing what she called three great houses of vidding, grouping and contextualizing three major aesthetics in the VCR Vidding era. While vidding in this era was more subtle(?) (and there was certainly a great deal going on outside these three aesthetics), the groups in these great houses were prominent and influential in fandom vid-making, and the aesthetic differences reveal how the artform has developed over time.

The MediaWest Tradition

Videos produced for show at MediaWest have, historically, focused on accessibility of an idea to an audience. As classic examples of Convention Videos, the aesthetic gave priority to clarity over context or metaphor and as a result song choice is important and almost always strongly lyrical. A commonly observed faced of this aesthetic is literalism; if a song said 'blue eyes' there would be blue eyes on screen, if the song said 'burn' then there would be a good chance of showing actual fire.

Vidders from this tradition include Bunnies from Hell, Central Consortium, Vid Weasels and P.R. Zed.

The Mary Van Deusen Tradition

Mary Van Deusen had access to professional editing equipment, and taught a great number of vidders not just how to vid, but also how to approach visual narrative, how to use songs and clips. In turn, those vidders went on to teach others. Mary Van Deusen's aesthetic focusses heavily on character and narrative. Telling a story was key to this aesthetic, it was also known for very strict cutting with edits being made strictly to the beat.

Vidders from this tradition include, of course, Mary Van Deusen, Deejay and early Media Cannibals.

The San Francisco Tradition

San Francisco vidding at the time was strongly associated with character-focused narratives that use color, emotion and song choice all combined using clips where the original context was pivotal to meaning. This tradition actually began in Chicago in the '80s but moved soon after to the greater SF area.

Vidders from this tradition include Tashery Shannon; Gayle F; Jill, then Keiko Kirin, Kathy, Lynn C. (known together as JKL); and Morgan Dawn.

LynnC responds:[1]

I haven't asked the others how they feel, but we definitely never talked about ourselves this way. Which doesn't mean other people didn't say it, I'm just saying we didn't! For one thing, only one of that list lived in SF proper, so if anything we felt we were "Bay Area."[2] As for the genealogy side of this: Tash and Gayle had old tapes of MVD's and Kandy's and the other early vidders, so I'd say this was more an MVD offshoot than anything else. T&G and Jill were early; Gayle in her vid for Data ("Orinocco Flow") was the first person I heard talking about trying to fit colors with motion and flow. Gayle was an artist as well as a writer, and felt very strongly about the visual side, and Tash was a music fandom girl and was very music and timing focused in her editing. She had an ear like no one else's. I (and I think the others listed) learned from them. But I was pretty influenced by early Media Cannibals, too, and friends with them, which is why I had some vids on their tapes.

The Aesthetics of Fusion

Escapade saw a collision of the three houses and as a result a fusion aesthetic formed where accessible vids were made that were also frequently character-focused and thematic. So Pure is a classic example of this West Coast aesthetic, as are later Media Cannibals vids or the Houston Crowd (Katharine, Pam Rose, etc.), who vidded under the Media Cannibals label.

Other vidding groups formed during this time, like The Chicago Loop and the WOAD society , and all brought their own spin to the aesthetic, while the East Coast group (Martha B, Judy Chien) were still going strong. All of these groups characterized subtleties and variations on the main vidding aesthetics as the hobby grew in both size and scope.


  1. ^ Quote added by Lynn C. directly to the article. April 25, 2010.
  2. ^ While it is common for non-locals to refer to the entire San Francisco Bay Area as "San Francisco", locals generally only use this for the city itself, shortening the area name to "the Bay Area".